What toys do newborn babies actually need

With hundreds of baby toys on the market it can be pretty easy to go crazy with buying playthings for your little one.

But before you fork out a fortune in brand new baby toys, let’s take a look at what toys your baby actually does need, when they can start playing with infant toys and what are the best toys for babies.

So first of all let’s think about the actual purpose of toys. The number one purpose is fun for your child!

However for babies and young children toys are actually a very valuable tool to help develop their physical and social skills.

Toys offer your baby a chance to explore different textures and sounds. They also let them witness, with a lot of amazement, the power of cause and effect. When they move their hand, they can make a rattle create a noise. To a baby that is amazing, and it teaches them a valuable lesson.

Toys can help your baby to hit crucial milestones, which you can find out lots about over on the March of Dimes website, such as:

  • Reaching out to grab an object
  • Banging two objects together with both hands
  • Learning to sit up unaided
  • Learning to crawl
  • Using the pincer grasp with the thumb and forefinger
  • Pulling themselves up to a standing position

So while toys are by no means top of the list when it comes to your priorities – a decent bed, a safe travel seat and clothes come before toys – they are certainly worth having.

You can find out all the things your new baby actually does need over on this ultimate baby registry post.

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What age do babies need toys?

Your baby doesn’t actually NEED toys from day one. In the early weeks they need your comfort, milk, sleep and warmth.

Plus you will find their awake time is pretty short in the early days, limited to just 30 to 40 minutes in the days immediately after birth. They will be content just staring at your face, listening to your voice and being given a tour of your home.

So in terms of buying baby toys, don’t worry too much until your baby is around six weeks old. You may want to have the odd small soft rattle or baby book to show them. These are really to keep you entertained as well as your baby.

Toys help to prompt imaginative play in parents as well as kids! We all need a little inspiration every now and then, especially if you didn’t spend a whole lot of time with children before having your own.

In the early days your baby’s eyesight still needs to develop. When they’re born, your little one can only see around eight to 12 inches in front of them, according to Kids Health.

In addition your newborn baby will enjoy black and white pictures more than ones of loads of colour. This is because their vision picks out the simple black and white tones and shades of grey better in the early weeks.

For this reason they will love looking at black and white pictures on cards or in baby books in the first few weeks.

Your baby will be able to grip objects in their fist right the early weeks, although they won’t have much awareness of the control they have over their limbs.

New baby playing with toys New baby playing with toys

They can reach out and grasp an item at around four months. Toys are really valuable in helping your child to practice this skill. Having something they want just within reach gives them motivation to reach out and grab it!

Aim to build up your toy collection for your baby from around two months onwards when they will be awake for longer and their vision will have improved from when they were first born.

What kind of toys are best for babies?

When shopping for toys for your baby look for toys that feature bright colours, different fabrics, different patterns and noise. The noise may come from rustling fabric, buttons that lead to a sound being played or a simple rattle.

Whenever buying a toy for your baby, do be aware of the safety standards. There are lots of tips on the Kids Health website.

Look for baby toys that are made and sold by reputable brands. Toys made by a proper company you can trust will have a label on them clarifying the toy is suitable for age 0+. The key things to look for are:

  • Fire resistant fabrics
  • Non-breakable materials – you should be supervising your baby at all times when they play but avoid any toys that
  • That the toy has no small parts that could be a choking hazard
  • Lead-free paint

While the word toy may make you think of something you should buy from a shop, in actual fact for your baby there’s all sorts of stuff in your home already that makes an exciting toy.

In the early weeks your baby will be happy just staring at and interacting with you. As they grow a little they will love things like seeing you blow bubbles or playing peek-a-boo.

As they grow they may appreciate a wooden spoon and a saucepan so they can bang on their own makeshift drum.

Best infant toys

If you’re in the market for some toys for your baby, these are the best kinds for your little one’s collection.

Baby playing on a baby gym reaching out for a toy Baby playing on a baby gym reaching out for a toy

Remember your baby does not need a ton of toys to be loved and develop at a normal rate. Playing and interacting with them is the best thing you can do for their development.

Here are some brilliant toy ideas for your baby:

Baby gym

The baby gym is a fantastic toy that will grow with your baby.

When your little one is a newborn they can lie down on the soft mat of the gym and stare up at the dangling toys.

Once they’re able to, they can start to reach out and grab some of the toys that are hanging down. They will love to push and pull them around to see what happens.

As they learn to roll onto their tummy, your baby will be able to explore every inch of the baby gym’s mat. Many baby gyms feature mats with lots of fun pictures, mirrors, and different textures of material.


When your baby shakes a rattle it’s good fun but they are also learning a ton of other stuff about music, their ability to move objects and cause and effect.

A rattle can help them practice their grasping motion and gripping onto things. When they let it go, which they will love to do, they can learn how to pick it back up again, or watch as you do it for them.

Rattles may came in many shapes and sizes including cute cuddle toys.

Soft toys

Your baby will begin to form a bond with a soft toy in their first year. This can really help to provide them with comfort in situations where they are put outside of their usual routine, such as starting at daycare.

Both of my daughters still have the comforters they slept with when they were first born. They’re a little battered, but my girls would not be without them.

Sensory toys

The Lamaze range of toys are brilliant for developing your baby’s sensory skills.

They feature different sounds, textures and loads of colour.

Sensory play can also happen with everyday objects. Try gathering things like spoons, empty bottles and brushes that your baby can explore with their eyes and hands.

Squeaky toys

The ultimate squeaky toy has to be Sophie La Giraffe. She is not only a great baby toy from birth, but she is also a teething toy! The texture of it is perfect for teething babies to chew on.

Cloth or board book

Reading to your baby from an early age has been proven to help their brain development. Foster a love of reading from day one by getting some simple cloth baby books or board books.

Most books for babies have very few, if any words, and instead just lots of pictures. Be sure to describe what’s happening in the pictures and point as you explain what’s going on in the story.

Stacking cups

As your baby gets older and is mastering grasping objects, as well as sitting up from around five to six months, they will love stacking cups.

Your baby can try making a tall tower which they then knock over or stacking them inside each other to tidy them away.

Babies also love bashing toys together to make a sound, and the cups are super easy to grip for this activity.

Simple blocks

While your baby won’t get their first LEGO bricks until after age one, they can enjoy simple wooden or soft blocks.

They can stack them on top of each other or place them in a line.

Bath toys

Make bath time fun with some simple bath toys. Rubber ducks, cups and jugs for pouring water, and floating toys are all great for babies to play with in the bath.


Eventually your baby’s first teeth will start to pop through. They will find this difficult phase a lot easier if they have a toy they can chew on to ease the discomfort on their gums.

There are tons of teething toys on the market, and many double up as a fun toy even when your baby is not teething so it’s never too early to buy them.

Final thoughts on toys for babies

I hope this has given you a good idea of what toys you actually need for your newborn baby.

The big takeaway from this is you do not need to spend a fortune on toys for your baby to help their development in the first year.

A few key items, especially the baby gym, soft toys and books, are the best ones to focus on.

If you are having a baby shower don’t forget to mention these things to loved ones who want to buy you gifts.

Do newborn babies need toys and the best toys for babiesDo newborn babies need toys and the best toys for babies